Mushrooms for Dog Health

When it comes to mushrooms for dogs, my general rule of thumb has always been, “when in doubt, go without”. The truth is, there are MANY different species of mushrooms. There are some that are toxic to dogs and people also, however, there is a reason people still eat mushrooms, and its not just because they like them. Mushrooms can be a powerhouse of nutrition and have been used for centuries in medicine. When I kept seeing dog “immunity blend” vitamins with mushrooms in them, I decided this was something definitely worth looking into.

While I would never trust a mushroom that I found outside, most of the mushrooms that you will find at the grocery store are also safe for dogs. That being said, not all mushrooms are created equal. Some mushrooms are worth a lot more than others health-wise. Because my dog’s not particularly interested in veggies, if I am going to incorporate mushrooms in my vegetable blends or broths, I want them to be worth the effort. Immunity blends can be great, but I prefer whole foods and unless my dog has a specific need for a blend, I always prefer to go the homemade route. There are a number of vitamins, minerals, biologically active compounds and fungal enzymes in mushrooms that can help with things like:

  • Immune system health
  • Digestive health
  • Detox
  • Respiratory health
  • Joint health
  • Normal cell growth

Some mushrooms are easier to find than others, so I also have a list below of whole-foods based supplements that might be helpful for those varieties that are not as easy to buy locally. Blends can also be beneficial because many contain important nutrient dense parts of the mushroom like the mycelium, that you just can’t buy in a store because they are cut in order to sell.

As with everything, moderation is key. Not all vitamins are beneficial in high amounts. Vitamins A, C and D for example can become toxic at certain levels, so it’s best to be aware of how mush your dog is getting combined with their other food per day. The benefit of buying store-bought mushrooms is that a lot of them have nutrition facts that can give you a general idea of how many vitamins you are dealing with at a time. The easiest to find beneficial varieties that can either be grown at home or found at most stores are shiitake, maitake, reishi, and button.

Shiitake: 

Most notable attribute: They are a symbol of longevity in humans and have health benefits for dogs as well. They are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods.

Additional benefits: They contain: protein, zinc, copper, thiamin, folate, selenium, iron, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, manganese, pathothenic acid, niacin, vitamin D and dietary fiber. They also contain more than 50 enzymes including pepsin, which aids in digestion.

Maitake: 

Most notable attribute: They are one of the most medicinal mushrooms on earth. They have a host of healing qualities and have been called an anti-cancer agent.

Additional benefits: Regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and immunity enhancing. Due to the unique chemical structure of its ploysccharide compound it has proven to be a strong tumor suppressant. They contain protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, selenium and vitamin D.

Reishi: These mushrooms come in a variety of colors but those that are purple, black, yellow, blue, white and red are the most beneficial. Red is the most common.

Most notable attribute: It helps reduce fatigue, bone marrow suppression and risk of infection especially for those undergoing chemo therapy radiation.

Additional attributes: They are used to relieve allergies, support cardiovascular health, improve digestion, improve the immune system, aid in detox, improve cognition, healthy respiration, they are anti-inflammatory and increase energy. They are rich in polysaccharides, polypeptides, 16 amino acids, organic acids coumarin and micro elements. They contain protein, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, omega 6, and selenium.

Button aka White mushrooms: 

Most notable attribute: They contain antioxidants that are not destroyed through cooking.

Additional benefits: These mushrooms have growth cycles that produce Button (can be white or brown), then Crimini and finally Portobello. The nutritional values vary between growth cycles but they all contain all of the B vitamins except 12, protein, fiber, omega 6, vitamin C, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper and selenium.

Other beneficial mushrooms:

These are much more rare but worth getting in a supplement:

Lion’s Maine: Helps improve memory.

King Trumpet: Anti-oxidant, maintains healthy cholesterol levels and contains high levels of l-ergothioneine, selenium and beta-glucans.

Turkey Tail: Promotes immune, digestive, urinary and respiratory health as well as normal cellular growth. This is because of a a particular polysaccharide called PSK.

Chaka: An immune nourisher, cancer preventive, and an aid to those dealing with melanomas.

Coriolis: Maintains, protects and restores immune health.

Himematsutake: Immune support and cellular growth. Related to the button mushroom.

Cordyceps: Restores stress from aging, supports healthy energy, circulation, respiratory health and healthy cholesterol.

A Brief Description Of What Makes Mushrooms So Valuable:

  • Beta-glucans and Proteoglycans: Two of the most biologically active compounds that support the immune system. Beta-glucans in mushrooms are exceptional because they are large, complex long-chain molecules made up of polysaccharides. Proteoglycans are special protein found in connective tissue. They also contain other bioactive compounds such as: alpha-glucans, pectins, ribonucleases, peptides, lectins, ubiquitin-like proteins, enzymes and antioxidants.
  • Digestive enzymes: Protease- digests proteins and aids in detox. Lipase- helps digest fat. Cellulase- breaks down fiber, promotes bowl health and regularity. Amylase– breaks down starch into sugar and supplies energy. This is important because unlike humans, dogs don’t produce this in their saliva and they need it to absorb nutrients from vegetables.
  • Antioxidants: Mushrooms contain many antioxidants including polyphenols and selenium but they are unique sources of the most powerful antioxidants which make them truly exceptional. One is L-ergothioneine. This is now called the “master antioxidant” because it can be transported throughout the body to fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Mushrooms are the only producer of this anti-oxidant. Unless your dog can receive some through grass fed cows that happen to be eating grass that was fertilized by these mushrooms, they will not be getting any at all. It’s ability to target and fight oxidative stress, protect cellular DNA and protect against free radical damage that speeds up aging, makes this a vital source of health and longevity. They also help prevent cancer and allergies.
  • Protein: Maintains healthy bodily functions and provides energy fuel. Protein is necessary for all aspects of growth, development and immune health. This is because it contains amino acids and the body cannot produce every one that is essential on its own. They must come through diet and protein quality is based not on the amount of protein itself, but the number of essential amino acids that it contains.
  • Manganese: Regulates carbohydrate and protein intake and fortifies the skeletal system. It is also essential for certain enzymes in the body responsible for the production of energy and making fatty acids. Excess levels of calcium and phosphorus can interfere with the absorption of manganese in the digestive tract. Manganese toxicity is virtually unheard of but deficiencies can lead to significant skeletal abnormalities and increase the likelihood of injury.
  • B vitamins: Water-soluable vitamins necessary for cell metabolism. B1 (thiamin) promotes nerve and muscle health. Niacin promotes essential enzyme production. Pantothenic acid enables the body to produce useable forms of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. B6 (pyridoxine) helps the body utilize amino acids and is essential to life. Folic acid and B12 are necessary for bone marrow and bone health because they help the marrow produce red blood cells. Biotin is necessary for growth, digestion and muscle function, it also is important in maintaining skin and hair health. B vitamin toxicity is virtually nonexistent because the vitamins are not stored within the body. Because of this, it is important that they are provided through diet.
  • Vitamin D: A Fat-soluable vitamin necessary for bone formation, nerve and muscle control. It balances phosphorus and calcium and regulates these in the blood stream, allowing calcium to be utilized and retained. Vitamin D is an important part of a dogs diet because they cannot produce it on their own. Vitamin D toxicity is very rare but could have a negative effect by causing calcium deposits in the heart, muscles and other soft tissue.
  • Vitamin C: (Ascorbic acid) A water-soluble vitamin that boosts the immune system, speeds healing, promotes bone formation and can decrease joint pain. It also fights viral diseases, bacterial infections and is an anti-carcinogen. Vitamin C is not an essential vitamin for dogs because they can produce it on their own but deficiencies can happen on occasion. Because it is water-soluble, it is considered safe and too much usually just causes diarrhea.
  • Riboflavin: Also known as B 2 is a water-soluble coenzyme that regulates the energy production from fats, maintains cells and helps the body utilize amino acids. It is essential to growth, muscle development and skin and coat health. As with the other B vitamins, it is not stored within the body and must be present in the diet.
  • Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin that promotes eye, skeletal and muscle health. This is a good vitamin for dogs because they easily convert it into a usable form. This is an especially important vitamin for growing puppies. The chances of toxicity are low with this vitamin but as with all fat-soluble vitamins it should still be avoided.
  • Potassium: Regulates hydration and proper fluid balance throughout the body and maintains the nervous system. Potassium is necessary for proper enzyme function, muscles and nerves. Digestive disturbances (like diarrhea) can lead to potassium deficiency which can be very dangerous. Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea should always be checked by a vet. As long as the kidneys are properly functioning, potassium toxicity is very rare. If the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, however, blood potassium levels can reach dangerous levels and cause addison’s disease. Dietary potassium may exacerbate this condition but it is not the cause of this disease.
  • Selenium: A trace mineral that should be used in limited amounts. It is an antioxidant that works with vitamin e and certain enzymes to promote heart and skin health. It also helps prevents arthritis and cancer. Selenium deficiency is very rare in dogs because they usually get an adequate amount in their diet. In rare cases, if dietary intake is in excess of 0.9 mg per pound of food eaten, over time, toxicity may occur and symptoms such as hair loss, anemia, liver failure or lameness may occur.
  • Iron: A mineral that increases the production of red blood cells. This helps maintain bone marrow and prevents anemia. Iron is necessary for certain enzymes in the body to function normally. Iron also combines with copper and protein to produce hemoglobin (the molecules in red blood cells that carry oxygen). The body needs a constant supply to maintain red blood cells, as they need to be replaced in the body every 110 days. Iron toxicity in dogs is extremely rare but can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb phosphorus.
  • Phosphorus: A mineral that works with calcium, that is vital to bone development. Together they maintain the growth and structure of the skeletal system. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be about 1:1 or 1.2:1 in favor of slightly more calcium. Because calcium is the mineral that is required in the highest amount, phosphorus is number two. Phosphorus deficiency is very rare in dogs. Too much phosphorus is more common and can accelerate kidney failure or renal disease. Because the calcium to phosphorus ratio is so important in dog health, its important to pay special attention to the amounts of both in each food. Excess or deficiency of either can cause problems. There are some foods that have a natural balance, like green tripe, but not most. For this reason, out of all of the items on this list, this is the one I would pay attention to most. Imbalance over time can cause skeletal problems that can be very severe. There should not be enough present in mushrooms to cause an issue, but it’s a good thing to be aware of.
  • Dietary fiber: Carbohydrates that aid in the metabolism of nutrients by regulating the digestive track allowing for better nutrient absorption. Fiber also lowers blood sugar and prevents the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the digestive track. Fiber can help with weight management, reduce the chance of diarrhea, constipation and diabetes.

Water-soluble vitamins are carried to the body’s tissues but not stored. If they are in excess, they simply pass through usually with minimal side effects or slight digestive upset.

Fat-soluable vitamins are the ones to pay close attention to. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body for long periods of time for further use. For this reason, the body doesn’t need theses vitamins every day. They are mainly stored in the liver and fatty tissue. They are essential to health but when eaten in excess they can cause toxicity.

How To Use Mushrooms:

When dealing with mushrooms at home, it is always best to cook them. It is also safest to buy organic and wash them throughly before using, to get rid of any possible pesticides. The easiest way for a dog to digest mushrooms is to cook them and cut them up, puree or make them into a broth. The broth may lose some nutritional value but it also helps release some of the nutrients. They are more likely to get a higher concentration especially if they are not interested in eating them.

I mostly add them to purees or make broths and save the mushrooms for our dinner.

There is much more to the story! I tried to cover a manageable amount here, but mushrooms are really amazing. I will be interested to see what else there is to learn!

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Some Good Mushroom Blends To Increase Immunity:

Dr. Mercola

Well Pet Dispensary

BIXBI

Mush

Canine Matrix-Turkey Tail

Canine Matrix blend

In an effort to be responsible I wanted to be sure to add a bit about which mushrooms are most toxic. Generally these may only be found on occasion outside, but I consider all outside mushrooms to be dangerous.

This is from PetMD:

Poisonous mushrooms for dogs include the following types:

Liver toxic mushrooms

– Amanita phalloides (Death Cap Mushroom)

– Amanita ocreata (Angel of Death)

– Lepiota (False Parasol)

– Galerina

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

– Conocybe

– Gymnopilus

– Psilocybe

– Panaeolus

Toadstool Mushrooms

– Amanita pantherina (Panther Cap)

– Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)

Mushrooms Containing Muscarinic Agents

– Inocybe

– Clitocybe

False Morel Mushrooms

– Gyromitra esculenta (Beefsteak)

– Gyromitra caroliniana

– Mushrooms in the Verpa genre

– Mushrooms in the Helvella genre

Mushrooms That Cause Gastrointestinal Distress

– Boletus

– Chlorophyllum

– Entolomo

Find out more information on mushrooms that are poisonous to dogs.

Golden Paste

If you’ve been doing much searching through dog supplements lately, there’s a good chance you’ve run across golden paste at some point. So,

What is Golden Paste?

For the most part, golden paste aka golden milk, is just a fast way of saying: Turmeric made into an absorbable form. This means its ready to serve because its already been combined with the ingredients necessary for maximum absorption.

Way back when, I used to have to mix it in with other ingredients every time I made my dog a meal. Now I save huge amounts of time by making a whole lot of it and sticking the excess in the freezer. You can even pre-portion using ice cube trays! I usually just use a measuring spoon, but either way, is super easy and convenient!

What is Golden Paste Good For?

Golden Paste, or turmeric, is good for many different reasons. Most commonly, it is used to reduce pain and inflammation. This is because it is a natural and effective anti-inflammatory. The reason this is the number one reason for so many people is due to the drastic increase in joint problems in dogs today. Dogs as young as 2 are being diagnosed with arthritis at an alarming rate. Diet is mostly responsible for this, but regardless of the reason, the pain level can be debilitating. For many dogs, this paste replaces the need for any medication! This simple golden paste has improved the quality of life for these dogs so much that is has gotten the attention of a lot of people. Fortunately, we don’t have joint issues yet, but we still use golden paste daily for the other amazing benefits it provides:

  • It helps prevent arthritis because it is an anti-inflammatory
  • It helps prevent and even treat cancer
  • Heart health because it prevents blood clots from forming
  • It aids in digestion
  • It protects the liver from toxins
  • Its a powerful antioxidant, slows aging and increases lifespan
  • Improves memory and healthy brain function

Dogs That Should Avoid Using Turmeric:

  • Dogs with diabetes
  • Dogs that are prone to kidney stones
  • Dogs taking drugs for acid indigestion or who take aspirin
  • Dogs getting ready to have surgery

*Water should always be fed with turmeric to reduce chances of constipation and all dogs should start with low level doses and work their way up to prevent diarrhea.

In my article just on turmeric, I go into further detail about the benefits of turmeric for dogs. These are just a few.

*And I almost forgot, one of the best parts of this recipe is, you can eat it too! Turmeric is just as good for people! I just put some on a spoon and mix it with honey but it can also be added to recipes and many different foods to add flavor!

How Do You Make Golden Paste?

This is the BEST part! It is so easy! For a very simple and basic paste, all you need is:

  • Turmeric powder
  • Coconut Oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Water

That is literally ALL that you really need to make a fabulous golden paste. I personally also add:

  • Bone Broth
  • Ceylon Cinnamon

I do this for a few different reasons. One is to add additional healthy nutrients and fats from the bone broth. I also find that it helps a lot with the consistency of my paste. The second, is that the cinnamon prevents breath odor afterwards. The smell is most commonly related to cat pee, and quite frankly, this is just not pleasant. The cinnamon takes care of that immediately!

*It is important to note here that it is crucial to use ceylon cinnamon. This is because cassia cinnamon (the most common) contains a toxin called coumarin. This could have a significantly negative effect on a dogs liver. The added ceylon cinnamon on the other hand is full of a long list of added benefits including:

  • It is an excellent source of manganese. Manganese helps activate enzymes that are essential to building healthy bones. These enzymes also aide in metabolism.
  • It is a very good source of dietary fiber, iron and calcium.
  • It helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps control blood sugar
  • Help control yeast (prevent candida)
  • It is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and an e-coli fighter
  • Prevents gum disease
  • It is an antioxidant

Used in small doses, these effects are minimal but still a good reason to include some in the batch!

I should also mention, some of the reasons for adding bone broth. 

  • Joint health (contains glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid)
  • Liver detox
  • Digestive health
  • Immune system health
  • Rich source of nutrients, amino acids, protein, vitamins and minerals

For an easy recipe on how to make bone broth and some of its additional benefits, I wrote about this here.

Golden Paste Recipes:

There are a TON of variations on these, but two that I find to be the most basic and reliable are:

Small Batch

  1. 1/2 C Organic Turmeric Powder (organic is higher in curcumin which is the active ingredient
  2. 1 – 1 1/2 C filtered water
  3. Mix together in a pan over medium/low heat for about 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens (if too thick or watery you can adjust the water or turmeric levels to smooth it out)
  4. Turn off heat and add: 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground organic black pepper (NEVER table pepper) and 1/4 C organic coconut oil (optional: also add 1 tsp ceylon cinnamon and instead of using 1/4 C coconut oil you can add 2 tbs coconut oil and 2 tbs bone broth)
  5. Mix everything together or blend with a whisk and your DONE!

This should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Large Batch

Now, I also make bigger batches with:

  1. 6 C water brought to a boil
  2. 3 C turmeric added in slowly while stirring
  3. 1 C coconut oil
  4. 1 C bone broth, mix in well
  5. 2 tbs ceylon cinnamon, 3 tbs fresh ground black pepper
  6. Mix well until paste is smooth
  7. Store

*Ginger can also be added to improve taste.

This lasts me a very long time and I love that! This is because it does not take a lot of this per meal to make an impact.

How to Use Golden Paste

It’s important to know that turmeric leaves the body quickly, so if you feed your dog twice a day it’s always best to split doses between both meals.

Feeding guidelines vary because every dog and condition is different, but general guidelines are:

Added to meals or mixed with some kefir or plain yogurt:

Start with:

1/4 tsp per day for small dogs

1/2 tsp per day for medium dogs

3/4 tsp per day for large dogs

1 tsp per day for very large dogs

Over time, as your dogs system adjusts, you can start doubling these amount up to 3 times. My dog is 25 lbs and we use about 1 tsp per day, but every dog is different. For dogs using it for pain management, they might need slightly more, so it’s always best to ask your vet.

You can also buy turmeric in supplements. Just be sure to check the ingredients (black pepper or piperine is crucial) and feed with an oil for absorption. It’s also good to check before adding it, that your dog isn’t already taking supplements that contain turmeric in them (this could cause diarrhea).

The Honest Kitchen also makes a ready to go version of this already combined with bone broth. They also have a great selection of other instant bone broths.

Below are some additional quick references and recipe guides. All of them are super easy and absolutely worth a try!

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Colostrum For Dogs!

What is Colostrum?

Colostrum is the pre-milk fluid that comes from the mammary glands of humans, cows and other mammals during the first few hours after giving birth, before regular nursing milk is produced.

It contains life-supporting immune and growth factors, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses.  It also contains essential nutrients, 17 amino acids, whole food building blocks and elements such as leptin, vitamins A and B12, and a broad spectrum of biologically active substances to support the immune, nervous, skeletal and endocrine systems.

It can benefit healthy animals as well as those that are extremely ill.

More specifically, bovine colostrum, or colostrum that comes from a cow, is a universal donor of colostrum. All mammals can gain benefits from using it, dogs and humans alike. It is the most commonly used source of colostrum for this reason, along with the fact that cows produce the most of it and it can be obtained humanely.

Due to factory farming, certain colostrum supplements may contain hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or even nuclear contamination. For this reason, source is hugely important. Also, there are many companies that sell transitional milk and call it colostrum, this will not cause damage, but it will not be nearly as helpful either.

Colostrum from pasture raised, grass fed cows has more beneficial enzymes that make it more easily absorbed into the system. This maximizes its benefits and also offers a more diversified immune source. The best form to receive colostrum is in a powder (water-soluble) and it should be prepared without excessive heat.

How Can My Dog Benefit From Taking Colostrum?

Because “colostrum contains all of the immune factors necessary for protecting a newborn from bacteria, allergens, toxins and viruses along with a balanced proportion of growth factors that are required for growing and healing” dnm, it is an enormous resource. It has been used in all types of medical models for centuries for treating, preventing and curing a list of ailments that is continuing to grow as time goes on.

Currently, the reason most people find out about colostrum is for immune system support or allergies, but it has had huge levels of success in treating things like:

Internally:

  • Auto-immune diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Joint problems and arthritis
  • Leaky gut
  • IBD
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Colitis
  • Absorption deficiencies
  • Pancreatitis
  • Candida (yeast overpopulation)
  • Thyroid problems
  • Allergies
  • And it is making huge advancements in treating and even curing cancer.

Externally:

  • Healing open wounds
  • Abscess
  • Dermatitis
  • Cysts
  • Insect bites
  • Ear infections
  • Gingivitis

Just to name a FEW ailments.

Some animals who have been treated for things prior to the addition of colostrum, were not helped until it was added to their diet, others were even able to eliminate the other treatment entirely.

Colostrum can be used as:

  • An antibiotic
  • A probiotic
  • To balance the thymus gland
  • To fight viruses, toxic buildup and destroy bacteria
  • To regulate the immune system
  • It has growth factors that speed wound healing, skin growth and cellular repair
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory
  • It can protect against canine flu
  • Bordetella
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lime disease and more

In short, colostrum helps repair cells all over the body and most importantly in the internal organs.

It contains all of the immune and growth factors necessary for life.

Colostrum is safe and inexpensive. It is also easy to administer and most dogs like the taste. I have yet to see a single down side that isn’t 100% source related. A woman that I admire very much, gave me insight into a source that comes from New Zealand. It is sustainable and ethically sourced. I’m sure that there are others but I think that this is so important in this case, not just for safety and benefits, but because of what these animals are giving us!

I was first introduced to colostrum when researching how to make my own organic dog toothpaste. I had no idea how lucky I was to stumble onto this. My dog and I are now both taking it and I could not be more grateful.

This is only a very brief insight into the amazing things that colostrum can do. If your dog has any problems whatsoever, it is absolutely worth asking your vet about adding some colostrum. It can’t hurt and has the potential to do so much good!

The colostrum we use is: New Zealand Colostrum

There are very concrete and definitive scientific reasons for all of these benefits. I did not attempt to try to digest the science on this one, it was just too far above my head, however This Article does this absolutely beautifully, if you are interested in learning more!

These are some general feeding guidelines. Every animal, use and product is different. This is just to give a very general idea for how much may be needed for a mostly health dog. I used this to help me know how much to purchase.

Gloria Dodd DVM recommends the following amounts:

  • 1/3 teaspoon powdered form/25 lbs body weight twice daily or:
  • Small dogs and cats –1 cap twice daily
  • Medium to large dogs- 2 caps twice daily

This recommended dosage is for one month minimum, then give colostrum as needed. It is most effective on an empty stomach, but it can also be given with a small amount of plain yogurt.

Currently, my dog only has ear infections but my immune system is a little more compromised, so we will update next month and let people know what we have found!

Phytoplankton, Fish oil or Raw Fish? Safe Ways to Give Your Dog Omega 3

NOTE: If you are using fish oil: Using just any fish oil truly is not safe. Rancid fish oil is a huge problem in the industry and this can have life threatening effects on a dog. Source is extremely important when using fish oil.

As our society changes and scientific progress is being made, we now have an abundance of information available to us about ways to improve the lives of our pets. This can be overwhelming, but one thing that has become abundantly apparent, is that dog’s need Omega 3’s in their diet. One reason for this, is that they get an abundance (or over-abundance) of Omega 6 and 9 in the food that they eat. Too much omega 6 and 9 can lead to inflammation, chronic disease, faster aging and slower healing. This was not an issue for the dog’s ancestors, because their diets were not nearly as laden with these oils as they are today. There are many contributing reasons for this, but one simple reason is livestock feed. Today our meats contain drastically higher amounts of omega 6 and 9 due to what these animals are fed. The most effective solution for the overabundance of these oils and the diseases they create, is introducing Omega 3. This balances the omega 6 and 9, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy healing and eliminates many causes for chronic disease. Omega 3’s (EPA and DHA) also improve brain function, prevent dementia, slow aging, promote skin, coat and hair growth, improve joint health and reproductive health. We can help reduce the omega 6’s in the diet through feeding things such as raw, clean, grass-fed meats, avoiding vegetable oils and staying grain free, but for many dogs this simply is not enough. Dog’s can’t produce Omega 3’s on their own and this is what makes it such an important supplement for them to get. The best sources of these for our dogs, come from the ocean. This is because unlike people, dogs can’t convert plant based sources of omega 3 (such as flax) and therefore need the DHA and EPA in pure form. This translates to meaning marine animals and algae. This brings me to the main point of this article: trying to decide which source of marine omega 3 is best.

*Note: Always stay within feeding guidelines for all types of omega 3 supplements. Too much of any of these may cause very adverse effects including difficulty clotting blood, slower would healing and proper immunity responses where inflammation is necessary to trigger the body’s appropriate response.

After an exhausting amount of research, I basically came to the conclusion that there is no easy answer to this. Each and every leading source available today has pros and cons. It mostly boils down to just what works best for each individual. I personally try to do a combination because it is what works for us.

Raw Fish

Pros:

  • Whole food is the most natural way for a dog to receive nutrients – I try to always go here first
  • The Omega oils are much less likely to be affected by oxidation or getting rancid
  • Parasites can be easily eliminated by freezing
  • Many fish contain additional nutrients including high quality protein, amino acids and vitamin D. This can be very beneficial when fed in moderation because dog’s can’t absorb vitamin D from the sun. (Amounts should be limited here and depend on what else the dog is eating because vitamin D is fat-soluble. Too much can be toxic and too little can cause damage as well. It’s always best to be moderate and ask a vet.)
  • Extra sourcing precautions should be taken with shellfish, (very clean water only) but certain shellfish such as mussels and oysters can be fed safely. They don’t have bones. They contain less omega 3 but still provide some. Mussels for example, contain approximately 665mg per 3 oz serving.  Green Lipped mussels from New Zealand, also make great joint supplements and also provide an array of other nutrients that make them beneficial including manganese, amino acids, antioxidants and enzymes. Oysters contain about 558 mg omega 3 per 3 oz serving and also have B12, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
  • Fats contained in fish help your dog’s body absorb nutrients, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals
  • Most Fatty fish contain approximately 1-2 grams of omega 3 per 3 oz serving, but this varies greatly between fish (this example was taken from salmon). Sardines contain approximately 1.8 g of omega 3 per 4 oz serving.

Cons:

  • A lot of dog’s refuse to eat fish
  • Toxins are stored in fish skin and fat
  • Fish bones can be a danger if swallowed whole instead of chewed (but processed fish is only considered safe for humans)
  • Salmon from the pacific northwest is not safe due to the presence of a particular parasite that can be deadly, its just not worth the risk.
  • Many people choose Sardines and Hearing because they are both high, well-balanced sources of DHA and EPA and dogs seem to eat them more easily. The downside is that even though these fish don’t contain high levels of mercury, they DO very often come from the contaminated waters of the pacific. This means they may have been contaminated by radiation poisoning and contain high levels of strontium, among other things. Whats worse is that MOST sardines come from Japan (where the radiation levels are the highest) and even companies that have no indications on their label, may be sourcing their sardines from these contaminated waters. There are ways to find safe sardines, it just takes a little work. And you can get them boneless.
  • Small fish either eaten whole or processed contain the bones. This means when eating fish from the contaminated waters, the dog is eating the toxic selenium directly because it is stored in the bones. (This also makes fish oil made from small fish more risky.)
  • They carry the same risk of heavy metal toxins as fish oil does including mercury poisoning.
  • Because our oceans are so heavily contaminated we also have to be concerned about industrial chemicals such as PCB’s, dioxins and pesticides
  • Some fish contain high amounts of omega 6’s (such as catfish and tilapia) this could cause more harm to an animal who is already eating a diet high in omega 6. They are also not high enough in omega 3 to provide a benefit.
  • Even wild and sustainably caught fish pose a risk. Many larger fish are simply too high in toxins to ever be safe including, tuna, mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish and grouper to name just a few.
  • Farm raised fish often contain growth hormones and residue of drugs meant to prevent diseases.
  • You can research the fish source, but it is not as easy to be confident it has been tested for purity (and you can’t do this at all with fresh fish)

* A good reference guide for sardines is Here I buy coles or crown prince now

Fish Oil

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to administer
  • Easy to absorb
  • You don’t need a lot
  • Easy to measure amounts of DHA and EPA
  • The safest source seems to be cephalopods such as octopus and squid. They lack bones that store radioactive substances and have very short life spans that keep their mercury and other heavy metal toxin levels at a minimum. They also contained high and balanced levels of both DHA and EPA
  • When produced properly and stored in dark glass ONLY, oxidation levels are usually much less.
  • Rancid oils often have a smell to them. Even when oxidation is taking place, it can be avoided by using a reputable manufacturer combined with proper use and storage.
  • Fish oil is only as good as the amount of DHA and EPA that it contains. Each one is different, but you can tailor it to be the exact amount that your dog needs.

Cons:

  • Heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Heavy metals can cause nervous system dysfunction, epilepsy, blindness, certain cancers, irreversible liver and kidney damage and even death.
  • Other toxins such as those from PCB’s, dioxins and furans may be present – same as with raw fish and most manufacturers will not disclose this.
  • Mixed oil blends often pose the highest risk of toxins
  • These toxins are stored in fat, so the oil is highly concentrated in them if they are present.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are extremely vulnerable to oxidative damage. This basically means when the oil mixes with oxygen, the fat particles break down into smaller compounds such as MDA (malondialdehyde) and contain free-radicals. Both of these damage proteins, DNA, other cellular structures and can lead to disease. Most fish oil has some of this before you even buy it. Sometimes its hard to tell if an oil is rancid but it is CRUCIAL information because rancid oil will do a lot more harm than good!
  • Fish oil stored in plastic (even dark plastic) is at a MUCH higher risk of oxidative damage. Dark glass is always a safer option. Opening the bottle does this damage also, so it is always best to keep this at a minimum.
  • A lot of fish oil comes from salmon sources in the pacific. These fish carry with them the extra threat of being contaminated with radiation poisoning. Fish from these waters are testing positive for radioactive particles such as cesium-37 and strontium-90 which can be deposited into bone marrow when ingested and cause innumerable problems including leukemia and cancer.
  • Krill is a good source of omega 3 but it is being over-fished and is not stable for the environment. Also, the added antioxidant “benefits” have absolutely no proof of making any type of effective difference.
  • For source transparency the oil must be third party tested. If it isn’t, it’s essential to ask for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the manufacturer before you know the analysis is legitimate.

*NOTE: When using fish oil it’s good to look for one with vitamin E in it. “It can help prevent the oxidative damage in omega-3 oil. Not only that, but it may also benefit your dog’s skin health, immune system, osteoarthritis, and more.” bncpet

Phytoplankton

Pros:

  • Easy to administer
  • Easily absorbed
  • You don’t need a lot
  • Easy to measure amounts of DHA and EPA
  • Marine Algae, plant based
  • Does not accumulate heavy metal toxins
  • Farm raising keeps harvesting them from affecting our oceans
  • Is rich and balanced in DHA and EPA
  • Most dogs are mineral deficient and it also contains extra added benefits including trace minerals, manganese, selenium, chlorophyll, magnesium, iodine, antioxidants (such as superoxide dismutase which removes toxins and heavy metals from the body), essential amino acids, protein, vitamins and carotenoids. These are extremely beneficial to overall heath and can prevent and reverse serious disease.
  • It already comes in an easily digestible source so these nutrients can be absorbed in to the system more easily than if they came from other plant based sources. This makes is very restorative and easy on the liver.
  • Phytoplankton contain approximately 14.4 mg of omega 3 per gram of powder

Cons:

  • Almost 100% of it is genetically modified (GMO)
  • Almost all of these producers are being controlled by Monsanto (despite what they advertise)
  • It must be sustainably grown on land and be without any fillers
  • It must be free of radiation, heavy metal and other toxins
  • It is difficult to find transparent sourcing information
  • Farm raised waters can still get contaminated
  • It contains no fat or the benefits that go along with it
  • Has benefits very similar to other algae (such as spirulina) that are easier to get source information on

For more info on this, or a purchasing reference, this article is a good start.

Conclusion:

The cons lists look much longer than the pros list on these. This is misleading though, because I listed the universal pros in the heading. I am in no way trying to discourage adding Omega 3’s into your dog’s diet! It is called an essential fatty acid for a reason! They really should have this in their diet. I’m just trying to present all the facts. So many people just find one source and stop, and I don’t think this produces very balanced view points. I do my best to look at every angle.

I choose to supplement with a fish oil that I’ve had years to research and trust, add occasional green lipped mussel powder and feed a small amount of raw fish, also from a trusted source. My dog doesn’t like most fish so, this is just what works for us right now.

I have not had enough time to properly source phytoplankton, so I will not purchase this supplement yet. I also already use spirulina. It contains the other benefits that phytoplankton has, and I have had time to source this correctly. Right now, I’m just using a muti-mineral supplement for this, but the way I found the last spirulina supplement that I used, was by reading articles such as this.  For this reason, I don’t find it necessary to add phytoplankton right now.

Having said that, our oceans are getting more contaminated, not less. If anything changes, and I find a source, I will update immediately.

The two supplants I currently use are:

Feel Good Omega which I also take myself, and for spirulina I use Green Min

These charts are a great resource and quick reference guide for selecting raw fish! I am still actively trying to get my dog to be more open minded, but when making a selection, I start my research here first.

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Facts about Pumpkin and Ways To Use Fresh Leftover Pumpkin!

Every fall we get pumpkins and save the seeds to roast. The ones we carve will spoil but the rest usually just go to waste. This is a shame because pumpkins are an incredible source of vitamins A and C, the antioxidant beta carotene, zinc, iron, soluble fiber and potassium.

*I should note that pumpkins can spoil quickly. Ones left outdoors may not be good options. This is the only time of year they are easy to get, so this isn’t really about recycling old pumpkins, but utilizing ones that were recently bought maybe right around Halloween. (I’d err on the side of caution and say no more than a week old.)

The first thing people always think of in terms of pumpkin is always treating issues related to digestion, but I assure you there is so much more!

Vitamin A is important for vision. Vitamin C aids in joint health and boosts the immune system. Beta carotene is beneficial to healthy aging. *The antioxidants from the carotenoid family (beta-carotene included) are considered especially useful because they are long acting and absorb more effectively into dog’s cell membranes. Zinc helps coat shine and health. Potassium is a blood electrolyte. It’s something to look out for if your dog has a kidney issue because often they need to limit potassium in their diet. Levels of potassium in the blood stream that are too high or too low are an indication of an underlying problem. (A good thing to look out for in a blood test.) In healthy dogs, potassium is great for muscle and blood vessel function as well as regulating the acidity of body fluids. It is also a great way to replace potassium lost during a bout of diarrhea. Soluble Fiber helps weight management because it slows digestion and helps dogs feel fuller longer. It also helps to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

A lot of people keep plain organic pumpkin around in case of tummy trouble because it’s so good at taking care of both constipation and diarrhea. This is because it absorbs water in cases of diarrhea and the high water content and fiber help the stool pass more effectively.

In cases of diarrhea, it’s important to remember that the diarrhea has a cause. When the body is trying to detox or get rid of something harmful, diarrhea is an effective method. It is very unpleasant but it has a purpose. Pumpkin may be good to help reduce symptoms but I would only use very minimal amounts. The fiber it contains is soluble, so it slows digestion and this is not good in detox. I would prefer to use the seeds in this case to aid in cleansing.

Pumpkin also doesn’t work to fix tummy troubles in every dog. Many do better with slippery elm for example (which I’ll discuss in an upcoming article). I personally like to let nature run its course. Diarrhea usually clears up quickly and if doesn’t, after a few days, it’s time to see the vet.

Dosing is also an important factor when adding pumpkin. Too much is not good and dogs don’t need a lot for it to be effective. The use determines the dose, however, it’s always good to ask your vet! I’ve seen 1 tbs to replace every 1/8c of food for weight loss and for stomach upset:

• 0-15 lbs dog: 1-2 tablespoon

• 15-35 lbs dog: 2-4 tablespoons

• 35 lbs dog or more: 2-5 tablespoons

Again these are just very general guidelines and every dog is different. I always err on the side of less especially in this case because it’s so high in carbohydrates.

Now for my favorite part, the seeds! The seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. They are also a natural dewormer. They contain an amino acid called cucurbitin which paralyzes things like parasites and tapeworms and helps them pass out of the system. The oils in them can help support urinary health, help treat kidney stones and aide with incontinence. They are also anti-inflammatory. The best way to use them is ground plain roasted (no salt).

For years I’ve been adding pumpkin to recipes for dog cookies and purées. It’s an easy thing to bake with and many dogs like the flavor. It never occurred to me to make my own because frankly, I had no idea how to cook a pumpkin… until now! This year I opted to get organic pumpkins for a few extra dollars, just so I could try to use them now, but any pumpkin should work just fine.

Because this is my first year trying, I used directions I found on-line by a woman named Kim Cromptom who had it looked at by a certified vet.

“Choose a small to medium size pumpkin and clean well, removing any dirt. Cook the cleaned pumpkin at 375 °F for 45-60 min (pumpkin should be soft). Remove pumpkin and allow it to sit for 5–10 minutes. Chop pumpkin in half, remove seeds and separate the skin from the flesh. Place hot pumpkin flesh in a food processor or mash by hand or with electric beaters.”

Pretty darn easy! I had no idea! I no longer have to buy expensive organic canned pumpkin because I plan to freeze it. Every holiday I love to make themed treats. I know carbs are not ideal for dogs but sometimes you just want to make something cute! This is a healthy way to do that. Whatever is left over I’ll keep around in case I want to add it to a purée. Below are some simple recipes but there are MANY many more and a quick google search will give you more options than you will know what to do with!

Easy Fall Themed Cookies

*Both of these recipes use natural peanut butter (no xylitol) however you can substitute this with bananas and they will come out just as good! I use all organic ingredients when I can. I also have two versions of each. One is with coconut flour (my favorite!) for grain-free and the other is for whole wheat. They are different because of differences in flour absorption but they are basically the same in flavor.

Whole-wheat recipe:

  • 2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C pumpkin purée
  • 3 tbs natural peanut butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix all ingredients together
  3. Roll thin and cut into desired shapes
  4. Spread out onto a greased cookie tray
  5. Bake for 30 min

(Thickness can affect cooking time so I start checking on them after about 25 min)

Coconut Flour (grain-free) recipe:

  • 1 cup of coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix pumpkin, eggs and peanut butter in a large bowl
  3. Add in coconut flour and mix well
  4. Roll and cut into desired shapes and place on a greased baking sheet
  5. Bake for 20-25 min (cookie thickness may affect this so I start checking after 20 min)

* A great tip for both recipes is to add 1 tbs of raw honey for flavor and/or 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

The good thing about these recipes is that they are basic and leave room for personalized added touches. I even hide vitamins in mine, they are great for that!

No-Bake Flour-free option:

  • 1/2 C natural peanut butter
  • 1 C natural pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbs raw honey

*optional: rolled oats, these help a lot with easy handling

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Roll into balls (optional: lightly roll through rolled oats)
  3. Place on a parchment lined tray
  4. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour, just so they harden a bit
  5. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator always (2 weeks max)

* In all cases pumpkin can be substituted with sweet potato, some dogs prefer the flavor.

Pupsicles

The size of your ice cube trays or silicone molds sort of determine the amounts here, but the amounts can be easily reduced or doubled.

To fill 1 large tray use:

  • 1 C pureed cooked or canned pumpkin and
  • 1 C pain yogurt (I use raw goats milk yogurt),

(you can also add a ripe banana if your pup likes them!)

  • Fill trays and freeze!

*You can also do this in a Kong

Simple Veggie purée

Trying to pick just one purée recipe is next to impossible because the options for these are endless. This is just one example. I encourage purees because of the ease of digestion and nutrient availability. I didn’t put organic before each item here but as always, organic is definitely the highest quality nutrition and safest option. I also always make sure to wash them.

(Tip: To help get my dog to eat her veggies I usually mix them up pretty well into the rest of her food and don’t give her too much per meal. About 1/4 C or less for a 25 lb dog. Many people also freeze them and their dogs like the crunch!) I also usually add some green Lipped mussels powder into my purées because unlike her other supplements, my dog really hates the taste of these!

  • One bag of baby spinach (at least 5 oz)
  • Two fresh red beet top greens
  • 1 chopped red beet
  • 5 leaves of kale
  • 5 stalks of parsley
  • 1 C puréed pumpkin
  1. Place all items in a blender or food processor (mine is small so I break the recipe in half and combine and stir at the end)
  2. Get to the finest level of purée that you can and

Done!

I’m no culinary expert, that’s for sure, but I hope this provides a good jumping off point! Best wishes and happy fall! Love Jeanne & Jersey Girl

Beets for Dog Health

There is a lot of debate about how much dog’s can benefit from vegetables. It is 100% true that their digestive systems were designed for meat. That being said, they also are meant to receive vegetables pre-digested from prey and definitely sometimes used to eat fruit whole. I’ll go more into vegetables in general in another post. For now I want to assume that they can access at least some nutrients from vegetables, especially when prepared properly and talk about why beets can be so beneficial.

Beets and especially beet greens are an incredible resource of nutrition that you can easily add to your dog’s diet (as well as your own!). Although it’s already become a popular dog food additive, this is mostly for filler reasons and profit margins, because the processing involved takes away almost all of the nutritional value. In many cases also, they are using sugar beets which are even cheaper and have absolutely no nutritional value. (Beets or beet pulp is actually a good thing to look out for and avoid in food!)

The two best options for beets are fresh or freeze-dried. Never canned or pickled.

The primary reasons people choose to add beets to their dog’s diet is for liver detox, allergies, inflammation, iron deficiency or weight management, but these are only a few benefits they offer.

The great thing is that because they are so packed with nutrition, a little goes a long way so you don’t need to use a ton of them! (This is good because too much could lead to red tinged diarrhea.)

Red tinged urine on the other hand, should not be an issue because in a balanced diet, this most likely will not occur. The same thing happens to people. Pink urine indicates a lack of hydrochloric acid in the digestion process. This is not dangerous and some digestive enzymes or a good probiotic should prevent it if it becomes an issue. Pink urine and stool can be a scary thing to see and this is the reason many companies that use beets properly (like Darwins) has removed them from their food. It is not dangerous but it is startling.

The general suggested amount is around 1/8 c.

Beets are full of antioxidants, vitamin C (immunity), vitamin B folate (cardiovascular support & normal tissue growth), manganese (helps bones, kidneys, liver and pancreas), fiber (aids digestion), iron (aids formation of healthy blood cells), potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function), and magnesium (bone health and nerve function).

Some dogs with issues such as allergies, inflammation or anemia can benefit from these properties but dogs with diabetes should probably stay away. Although beets are low in calories they are higher in sugar than other types of vegetables and may not be good for this reason. (An important note here however is that unlike other high glycemic index items, beets have a LOW glycemic load, so contrary to intuition they are still moderate in terms of affecting insulin levels making them still a great weight loss tool.) The greens however, would work just fine!

I’ve read a lot of articles and it is still unclear to me exactly how well beets are digested and absorbed in the digestive tract. I looked into the different ways to prepare them, for this reason and still could not find any one method that out-shined the rest. I already know that fermentation is the best way to allow the unique digestive system of dogs to absorb nutrients. I am in the process of learning how to do that, but now I try to do the next best thing which is to purée.

The idea is that the further broken down something is, the easier it’s absorbed. The important thing is to break the cell wall to release nutrients. The finer grind purée the better. Feeding this along with an enzyme supplement or probiotic that contains amylase is my go to solution when I can’t get fermented.

This is because dogs don’t have salivary amylase (what breaks down the cell walls in fruits and veggies so the nutrition can be released). They do have some amylase in their pancreas but not very much overall.

Cooking, freezing and pureeing are all ways of breaking the fruits and vegetables down into a more usable form.

I know this works well for spinach for example. It’s also true of beet greens. For lack of further evidence, I will assume it’s also true of beets. They lack fiber this way, but hopefully add more nutritional value. After fermented (not jarred) Raw or puréed seem best. Cooked is the next best after that and is easier for some dogs to accept. Juiced is usually ok for leafy greens but in this case it is not good because of the release of sugar.

I can definitely see myself using them as healthy treats because the fiber is filling and my dog needs to lose a few, but for meals, I primarily use the beet greens with one raw beet as just one ingredient in a big purée. I also like to change up my purée ingredients a lot to add variety. If you supplement with beets to treat a certain condition, it’s always best to get dosing information directly from a holistic vet.

Beet greens are high in protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Beet greens contain more iron than spinach, improve immune function and help protect bone health.”

The compelling reasons listed here are good to consider because while hard evidence regarding digestion is still lacking for this particular vegetable, if they can be fed in a way that they are absorbed, they would be a tremendous resource. This is from dogtube:

“5 Reasons to treat your dog to red beets

1. Beets are believed to lower blood pressure – The natural nitrates in beets covert to nitric oxide which relaxes and dilates blood vessels improving blood flow and blood pressure.

2. Fight Inflammation – Beets contain betaine, which “helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.” (World’s Healthiest Foods)

3. Anti-Cancer Properties – It is believed that the Phytonutrients in beets may help prevent cancer.

4. Detoxification Support – The betalain pigment in beets cause toxins to break down so they can be eliminated from the body and help purify the blood and liver.

5. Beets boost stamina – Thought to be the result of beets reducing the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.”

To me it sounds like this is geared more towards people, but there is no debate that beets are good.

This all brings me to the reason I decided to write this article:

Yesterday I was ecstatic to find out that my local pet store had the highly anticipated Answers Turkey Stock with Fermented Beet Juice! I’ve been waiting for this one! First, because of their fermentation process, that unlocks nutrients and maximizes the benefits of everything they make. Second, because red BEETS are included now!

I will still use the greens and some beet on my own, because this is only beet juice, but with this product I am more confident that my dog is benefiting from the beet. This is exciting because beets have a lot to offer!

* For a good freeze dried treat style option I love Olewo for their dedication to quality! (Sold on Amazon, chewy etc)

Finally, a wonderful article on vegetables for dogs is written by Dr. Dobias

Here he explains more about which vegetables dogs can benefit from the most! (Note *The feeding guide fermentation he mentions here is not the same as the process we make.)

Beets are below their greens, but they’re still on the list!

Here is a good quick list of useful veggies (I leave out peppers)

And here is just a quick way to remember which beets are best for dogs (the only really bad one is the sugar beet – the one that looks like a bull’s eye)

The highly anticipated new Answers product:

The Truth About Garlic

Garlic has been on every “what not to feed” list for dogs that I’ve ever seen. Like most people, I just assumed this was correct and left it alone. That being said it was also in a TON of dog supplements that we see every day. At first, I just assumed that these supplement makers just somehow magically changed the deadly garlic into something safe and extracted the benefits, but this didn’t change the fact that any other garlic was still unsafe.

This literally could not be further from the truth.

The real reason garlic is on these lists is because (just like avocado) it can harm some animals but not most dogs. It’s added as a precaution if overdose occurs or if the dogs that shouldn’t have it have too much. It’s also on the list because of studies done exclusively on garlic extracts, excessive doses or garlic mixed with other things, NOT on normal amounts of fresh raw garlic.

The other reason people fear garlic is because garlic is part of the Allium family (along with onions). This means it contains aliphatic sulfides (propyldisulfide and thiosulphate to be exact) which can damage red blood cells. Because this damage is often without symptoms it can become a concern with prolonged use. HOWEVER, the actual AMOUNT of thiosulphate present is so much less than in onions, it’s often untraceable.

It’s a heated debate but the evidence of harm is severely lacking and in proper use cases, I haven’t seen a single piece of evidence proving any cellular damage whatsoever.

In my opinion all this means is that large amounts and pro-longed use are important guidelines to keep in mind but not reasons enough not to use it.

What dogs should not have garlic?

-Dogs with anemia or who are scheduled for surgery

-Dogs with a compromised digestive tract (it could exacerbate symptoms such as IBS or leaky gut)

-Dogs on certain medications (immune suppressants, heart medications etc.) The prescribing vet will know for sure.

-Dogs with diabetes

-Puppies

-Pregnant mothers

-Japanese dogs such as Shiba Inu’s and Akita’s (I know this sounds crazy) The reasons are still not 100% clear but it has to do with their digestive system and how they break down certain things.

In these cases, small amounts should still be no reason for concern, but if your worried it’s always best to call your vet!

What makes garlic so beneficial?

Why bother with an item that has been so controversial? Because it’s an absolute POWERHOUSE when it comes to benefits. People who have years of experience and success using it have a staggering number of explanations why. A few of them are listed here.

Garlic Properties and uses:

-Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-parasitic

-Immune system enhancer

-Detox – liver and digestive tract; breaks down waste before it enters the bloodstream

-Digestive enhancer – helps the body absorb nutrients, supports beneficial bacteria, eliminates harmful bacteria and balances the digestive system

-High in vital nutrients such as: vitamins A, C & B, Calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, germanium, amino acids, inulin, sulfur, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.

-Decreases cholesterol

-Improves circulation and organ function (especially lungs, large intestine, stomach and spleen)

-Prevents tumors

-Prevents blood clots and widens blood vessels

-Stimulates lymphatic systems to remove waste

-Cancer prevention and treatment – ongoing studies are proving this more and more!

-Natural tick, flea and mosquito repellant (after daily doses for at least 2 weeks)

-Dewormer

-Topically for Ear infections and ear mites

That’s a pretty big deal so now,

How to safely add Garlic to your dog’s diet:

-ONLY use fresh, organic WHOLE shelled garlic from a trusted source (never jarred or dried because this voids the value)

-Always peel and mince, cut or crush directly before use (it’s suggested to then let it stand for 5-15 minutes at room temperature before serving to maximize the benefits. These activated benefits last for about an hour.)

This has to do with a reaction that takes place within the garlic. It’s not dangerous to serve garlic you chopped yesterday for example, but the active benefits won’t be nearly as effective.

-Always follow dosing guidelines.

*I often mix some in with puréed vegetables, (not ideal for benefits but a lot of people do it) I pre-measure it in this case, but I also don’t stress because my dog would need more garlic than she could ever eat to actually make her sick.

Dosing is everything

The general rule of thumb here is:

• 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove of garlic

• 20 to 40 pounds – one clove

• 45 to 70 pounds – two cloves *many stop at two for all weights but some add

• 75 to 90 pounds – two and a half cloves

• 100 pounds or more – three cloves

Or

  • 1/6 tsp for 5 lbs
  • 1/3 tsp for 10 lbs
  • 1/2 tsp for 15 lbs
  • 2/3 tsp for 20 lbs
  • 1 tsp for 30 lbs

Many people also recommend rotating one week on, one off, or every other day. I also use slightly less than the recommended dose.

Conclusion

I am still wary of the health warnings but try to stay on top of new research. So far hard evidence of harm seems to be lacking… significantly. One recent development was that the “major” study that supplied the information about garlic causing red blood cell damage, (that flooded the internet!) was done on literally four dogs that were given very high doses (25 cloves for a 50 lbs dog per DAY!)… plus afterward it was determined that they were totally fine. So… so far the benefits seem to outweigh the concerns and the holistic community has been using it for a very long time with great success.

We tend to use garlic seasonally, when I want to give my dog an immune boost but I know a lot of people who use it daily. As always, it is best to ask a holistic vet about holistic things, plus one who knows your pet.

It is definitely something to consider especially with winter coming up!